Macula Degeneration

What is Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration (MD) is a disease of the central retina (called the macula) that affects central vision. It is the leading cause of vision loss among people over age 65. Because it affects only central vision, macular degeneration does not cause total blindness. But it can make most daily activities like driving and reading difficult or impossible.

What causes it?

The exact cause of macular degeneration is still not understood, but it is thought to be associated with artherosclerotic changes in the tiny blood vessels that nourish the macula, compromising the blood flow to this part of the retina.Age plays a role in the disease. For this reason, it is was originally referred to as age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Macular degeneration has two forms:

Dry MD is the more common form, affecting approximately 90 percent of those who have macular degeneration. It typically develops slowly and causes mild visual distortion to moderate central vision loss.

Wet MD affects only 10 percent of people with macular degeneration, but causes more severe vision loss. In wet MD, new blood vessels that form under the macula leak fluid and can cause a rapid and severe loss of central vision.

How common is Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration is the most common cause of severe vision loss among individuals over age 65. Age is the greatest risk factor. People over 40 have a 4% risk, over 50 have a 9% risk, over 65 have a 23% risk and over 80 have a 31% risk. It accounts for 45% of the legally blind and 70% of the seriously visually impaired people over 70.Other risk factors include:

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